At Abbot’s Lea School we design our curriculum in conjunction with our Philosophy of Education: the ASD model ©

The ASD Model ©
• Academic Progress
• Specialist Therapeutic support
• Development of Life Skills

The curriculum at Abbot’s Lea School is designed to be broad, balanced, challenging and personalised to the needs of the students. We keep at our heart of learning, that we are teaching the adults who will lead our society; we might just so happen to be teaching them when they are 10! At Abbot’s Lea School we place equal emphasis on the three aspects of our Philosophy of Education. Our curriculum is a rich menu of learning experiences, where students see the links between their subjects.

The curriculum prepares students for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences which they will encounter after leaving Abbot’s Lea School, whilst promoting spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. It is designed to promote students’ emotional well-being and mental health. A clear emphasis is placed on exploring other’s belief systems and enabling the students’ exploration of their own beliefs, spirituality and morals.

We have a clear commitment to our delivery of Life Skills lessons and work in conjunction with families to ensure the learning is prioritised in a bespoke manner.
We also embed the Employability Curriculum from Early Years through to KS5. This is achieved through the careful planning and inclusion of employability onto mid-term plans and through standalone events.

Our blended approach means that we are able to deliver our learning online when required to do so. We also value using online learning internally, between classrooms in acknowledgment that this will be a crucial skill for our students to acquire ahead of their world of work.
Within the daily practice of the classroom, holistic and therapeutic interventions and support are provided to students. This may be as explicit interventions such as sensory circuits or it may be part of the implementation of a lesson. This provision is extended through the support of the school’s designated therapists.

Students can expect high-quality teaching and learning. Staff are highly skilled in supporting students to overcome their barriers to learning and social interaction so that they achieve academically, have confidence in themselves as individuals and know that they can go on to make a valuable contribution to society. In each classroom we adopt the model of a class teacher, HLTA and TA, delivering the entirety of the curriculum to the students. Through this approach we can offer a full complement of subjects that reflect the breadth of the national curriculum, whilst ensuring that relationships and pastoral support underpin everything that happens in a student’s learning journey.

General curriculum principles

Our curriculum at all stages will give students the opportunity to:

  • Understand the purpose and value of their learning and see its relevance to their past, present  and future
  • Explore the breadth and depth of the national curriculum
  • Learn within a coherent and progressive framework
  • Develop a rich and deep subject knowledge
  • Develop new skills through a variety of interesting contexts
  • Develop and demonstrate their creativity
  • Experience the challenge and enjoyment of learning
  • See clear links between different aspects of their learning
  • Understand themselves and their learning styles
  • Develop passions and interests which inform possible future pathways
  • Develop life skills in a bespoke and personalised way
  • Access all learning through personalised specialist therapeutic support

Sequencing and Ambition

The Schemes of Work at Abbot’s Lea School are well sequenced and designed in a way that allows for ambition. In all subject areas, topics build on prior learning as students move up the school. Where, on face value it might appear that topics are re-covered (for example – in maths, where money is covered twice a year every year) the school has a systemic approach to ensuring that whilst the overarching topic may be repetitive (to help students remember more) the specific learning objectives are personalised to achieve progression in the students’ learning. In the example of money, whilst the same topic is purposefully covered numerous times, one student might be learning to recognise coins, whilst another is calculating tax values.

Roles and Responsibilities

The Deputy Headteacher is responsible for all curriculum matters. She works with other members of the Leadership Team to ensure that our curriculum is well sequenced and ambitious.

EYFS Emily Tobin and Maria Hattersley
Art and Design Emily Tobin and Maria Hattersley
Computing Emily Tobin and Richard Hodgson
Design Technology Emily Tobin and Richard Hodgson
Employability Emily Tobin, Matthew Lyons, Ryan Mason
English Emily Tobin
Food Technology Emily Tobin, Matthew Lyons
French Emily Tobin
Geography Emily Tobin, Laura Gibney
History Emily Tobin, Laura Gibney
RSE/Citizenship Emily Tobin
Maths Emily Tobin
Music Emily Tobin, Maria Hattersley
PE Emily Tobin, Matthew Lyons
RE Emily Tobin
Science Emily Tobin, Richard Hodgson, Ryan Mason


Throughout all stages and Abbot’s Lea School, Our curriculum will give children the opportunity to:

  • Explore beliefs, experience and faiths, feelings and values; enjoy learning about oneself, others and the surrounding world; use imagination and creativity and reflect on experiences
    Recognise right and wrong and respect the law; understand consequences; investigate moral and ethical issues and offer reasoned views
  • Use a range of social skills to participate in the local community and beyond; appreciate diverse viewpoints; participate, volunteer and cooperate; resolve conflict
  • Appreciate cultural influences; appreciate the role of Britain’s parliamentary system; participate in culture opportunities; understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity
  • Be part of a system where everyone plays an equal part
  • Learn that all people and institutions are subject to and accountable for their actions and behaviour
  • Be free to express views or ideas
  • To respect and tolerate the opinions or behaviour of others

Well-being through the curriculum

Our curriculum will give children the opportunity to:

  • Recognise that people are good at different things
  • Build respectful friendships
  • Learn how to respect themselves and others
  • Develop self-esteem and confidence in their abilities
  • Follow their own interest and be themselves
  • Learn in a supportive environment
  • Be supported to learn how to self-regulate when anxieties become heightened
  • Find a way of being active that they enjoy
  • Support others in the school community and wider community

Student Voice

Pupil voice refers to pupils’ participation, contribution and influence in a school context (MacBeath, 2006). Various studies have confirmed the benefits of pupil voice: increased pupil engagement, improved relationship between pupils and teachers, better communication between pupils and the school, and providing the right conditions for the school community to become a learning community (Mitra, 2001 and Rudduck et al, 2003).

We recognise that some students have difficulties with expressing their opinions and therefore, we use creative and personalised ways to ascertain students’ feeling about things and their recommendations for making their experience even better.

Our curriculum will give children the opportunity to:

  • Say what they like and dislike about their learning
  • Express their opinions on a range of different topics and issues
  • Take part in democratic activities across the curriculum
  • Make choices about things that are important to them
  • Take part in age-appropriate discussions
  • Explore ways of becoming an active citizen
  • Make a positive contribution to the school and local community


All enrichment activities are woven into the heart and soul of our school day. We do not see enrichment activities as being distinct from learning. It is these rich experiences that make learning memorable. By ensuring that these enrichment offers are within our school day, we can ensure that all learners can access all opportunities. Through this, they begin to learn about themselves, their passions and their interests.

We will enrich our curriculum by:

  • Holding specialist curriculum days or weeks
  • Welcoming families to take part in children’s learning and experiences
  • Using quality resources in and out of the classroom
  • Developing partnerships with external providers that extend children’s opportunities for learning
  • Offering opportunities for children to learn outdoors
  • Providing on and off-site subject or topic related activities
  • Giving students a high level of access to technology as part of their learning offer (not limited to Computing)

Whilst, as stated above, we see enrichment as an every-day entitlement, we do have an enhanced level of enrichment on offer to our students each Friday afternoon as students enjoy a carousel of activities.

Early Years and Key Stage One

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) applies to children from birth to the end of the academic year in which a child has their fifth birthday.

The EYFS is statutory and is detailed under the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. It forms a basis for developing essential skills such as communication, listening, persistence and collaborating with each other. The three prime areas cover the knowledge and skills which are the foundations for future progress, and which are applied and reinforced by the specific areas. All areas of learning are equally important and are interlinked.

Prime areas (click on the link to see our Scheme of Work):

Specific areas (click on the link to see our Scheme of Work):

At Abbot’s Lea School we continue each child’s journey through the EYFS into Key Stage One as this enables us to show progress against each child’s individual next steps. We believe in the power of play and have planned and purposeful opportunities available for our pupils throughout the day. We build their resilience and ability to follow a routine and develop their engagement with adult led activities and group circle times where appropriate.


We follow the statutory framework and guidance detailed in the EYFS.

We provide a broad and balanced Early Years curriculum:

  • based on first hand experiences and purposeful interactions
  • through ‘in the moment planning’ opportunities and carefully planned adult or child-initiated activities
  • which develops the skills and attitudes children will need as they move through the school and in life
  • We aim to foster a love of learning and ensure all of our pupils love coming to school by making each day happy, positive and fun
  • We aim to instil the Characteristics of Effective Learning such as independence, resilience and confidence through our planned environment and activities
  • We aim to develop all of our pupils’ ability to communicate effectively develop their ability to self-regulate through the support of our Multidisciplinary team
  • We aim to build positive relationships and work in partnership with our families to support every child to develop and learn.

At Abbot’s lea School we have a holistic approach to education, valuing each child as an individual with different starting points on their learning journey starting regardless of the age or time of year they may join us. In our EYFS/KS1 we continue the EYFS journey until each child is ready to move onto Key stage One National Curriculum.

We believe play is a powerful tool for learning, through this we ensure our Characteristics of Effective Learning are at the heart of our plans and provision. Through play children explore and develop learning experiences, which help them make sense of the world. We ensure a multi-sensory approach to learning is tailored to suit each individual based on their developmental journey, ensuring opportunities for developing emotional resilience and self-regulation using our Zones of Regulation © tool box.

Based on our knowledge of the students, we provide a rich and varied ‘enabling’ environment, with planned resources to encourage exploratory play-based learning and challenge. The learning environment encompasses both indoor and outdoor provision, which are of equal importance. Children are encouraged to experience all areas of the learning environment in all weathers. We encourage children to plan their own selection of activities balanced with adult initiated activities.

At Abbot’s Lea School, our children are learning when they –

  • Access resources independently
  • Go to lunch, try new foods, line up and become independent in their hygiene routines
  • Use their senses to explore and investigate
  • Develop persistence and positive attitudes to learning as detailed in the Characteristics of Effective Learning
  • Follow routines
  • Play alongside and with others
  • Collaborate and learn from one another through shared experiences

We follow the EYFS frame work and use Development Matters to inform our planning alongside each pupils’ individual interests and next steps. Each student has a “My Plan©” with individual termly SMATRT targets (often a break-down of annual EHCP targets). These are reviewed termly along with their families and ensure opportunities to develop these targets are provided within the environment and through adult led activities.


In line with the introduction of the Statutory baseline for all EYFS pupils, this year we will complete the baseline for those pupils of EYFS age and carry out our own assessments and baselines for those students currently in Key Stage one, these include, Phonics and Maths assessments.

Formative assessment in EYFS/KS1 is continuous and takes the form of observations, examples of child-initiated work and samples of adult led activities and interventions. We use ‘Evidence for learning’ to keep observational records and create a Learning Journey. Each child’s Learning Journey is available to parents and carers at all times via the app. All records and information are passed onto new teachers to ensure a smooth transition each year.

Key Stage 2 and 3

At KS2 and 3 all statutory subjects are taught. In addition to statutory requirements, Food Technology is taught as a standalone subject, and not just as part of Design Technology. This is in recognition of the specific needs of our student population.

Key Stage 4

At KS4, some lessons are taught discretely and some are taught as part of projects. This is to retain a broad and balanced curriculum for our students. The curriculum is designed based on the specific needs of our student population.

Lessons taught discretely:

Lessons taught as projects:

  • Cornerstones Curriculum


What is the Cornerstones Curriculum?

The Cornerstones Curriculum is a creative and thematic approach to learning that ensures comprehensive coverage of national expectations. Our new curriculum will be delivered through Imaginative Learning Projects (ILPs) and Knowledge Rich Projects (KRPs) which will provide a rich menu of exciting and motivating learning activities that make creative links between all aspects of our students’ learning.

We believe children learn better when they are encouraged to use their imagination and apply their learning to engaging contexts. Our curriculum provides lots of learning challenges throughout the academic year that will require children to solve problems, apply themselves creatively and express their knowledge and understanding effectively across the curriculum.

In any of Cornerstone’s Projects, students will progress through four distinct stages of learning in each project – Engage, Develop, Innovate and Express.


At the “Engage” stage, children gain memorable first-hand experiences, such as going on a visit or inviting a special visitor into school. They get an exciting introduction to a topic or theme and begin researching and setting enquiry questions.


At the “Develop” stage, children improve their knowledge and understanding of the topic. They develop and practise their new skills. Compose, make, do, build, investigate, explore, write for different purposes and read across the curriculum. Students will research their own questions and those set by others.


At the “Innovate” stage, children apply skills, knowledge and understanding in real-life contexts. They solve real or imagined problems using everything they’ve learnt and get inspired by imaginative and creative opportunities. Students will also revisit anything not fully grasped at the ‘Develop’ stage.


At the “Express” stage, children become the performers, experts and informers. They share their achievements with parents, classmates and the community. Students will evaluate finished products and processes and link what they have learnt to where they started. In general, this stage is an opportunity to celebrate their achievements.

For more information please visit Cornerstones Education.

Key Stage 5 and Supported Internships

Students who transition into, and become part of our Key Stage 5 provision from Key Stage 4, continue to gain academic qualifications through the Functional Skills route in English, Mathematics and ICT, if appropriate. In addition, all students study RE. However, the primary focus of Key Stage 5 is to support the continued Development of Life Skills, independence and self-advocacy in readiness to transition from Abbot’s Lea School to adulthood at their earliest opportunity. Our students complete a range of activities to help them identify their desired next destination and to work towards it.
Students have the opportunity to undertake a Supported Internship within Key Stage 5 if they wish to. This allows the students to embed themselves within an employer for a minimum of six months, gaining the skills needed to undertake a range of different roles. Alongside their working pattern, students also engage in accredited learning through completing Functional Skills qualifications in English, Mathematics and ICT. This allows each Supported Intern to complete a hands-on and bespoke experience of work-based learning and fulfilling a job role, whilst continuing to gain academic qualifications.
All students within Key Stage 5 will also experience college taster activities, college visits, work experience days and a range of community visits, using public transport where appropriate to further enhance their ability to travel independently.

Accredited Learning

By the end of KS4, our students should be ready to move up into KS5 or go to another Higher education establishment or the world of work. That is why the students will take Employability and Living and Life skills qualifications. Expressive Arts, Humanities, Cultural studies and Life skills food tech are designed to build students’ key skills to support their progress. Mindfulness, social interaction, reading and sensory time are to support the student’s wellbeing and readiness. The students can also develop their leadership skills through a practical setting and develop their problem-solving skills.

We continue on from KS4 with students’ functional skills qualifications in Maths, English and ICT.
At present, a lot of work is going in to support the transition of KS5 students including participating in a research project to capture student voice and the views of families of their experiences in the past and hopes for future transitions. We have had input from Colleges, and participated in a virtual Careers day but the impact of COVID has limited such interactions in term one and term two. The plan after Christmas will involve further college visits and employer visits, as well as regular meetings with our students and families to discuss their options and make inquiries for them to support them accessing their future options. This will also include all students completing some form of work experience, some as a one-off event and some more regularly.


At Abbot’s Lea, in line with the Government’s careers strategy, we ensure that all students, from the age of 3 to 19 access an embedded and bespoke education through our development of an Employability Curriculum. At Abbot’s Lea School, we use the Gatsby Benchmarks to measure the quality of our provision in order to develop it further. We believe in high-quality career advice and practical support in terms of access e.g. students are supported with arranging and attending college interviews and visits. This is absolutely essential if students are going to achieve their potential.

Students from across the school have the opportunity to engage in work experience and this is a really important part of our curriculum. This opportunity to go and work in the wider community is invaluable and allows students the opportunities to achieve the following aims:

  • to enable students to apply the transferable skills learned in the classroom in a real-life context.
  • to further improve skills by making learning more relevant and practical
  • to offer further opportunity to develop personal and social skills
  • to develop an understanding of work and its related responsibilities
  • to broaden awareness of the world of work
  • to introduce students to the knowledge and skills of particular occupational area/s
  • to help students to make the transition from school


Our Specialist Support

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